By Tony Attwood
In a recent article we argued that a lot of the fake stories that circulate at this time of year concerning transfers were deliberately set up by not just by the media trying to fill space and grab readership, but also by the clubs themselves and by players’ agents.
One implication of that is that lying, invention and fantasy is at the very heart of football, and so it is not surprising to read in the Guardian that “The two Portuguese professionals appointed to work with the chairman of Uefa’s “independent review” into the chaos at the Champions League final have both worked extensively for Uefa, raising further serious concerns about the review’s independence.”
This comes at a time when the head of Fifa is under suspicion of various malpractices including illicit meetings with the head of the Swiss legal services – something which has come into ever sharper relief since the acquittal of Platini and Blatter in the most recent Fifa related court case.
It is also interesting that when they were appointed to the independent enquiry, no background information on Daniel Ribeiro and Luis Silva was given. Now the independence of Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, has also been challenged.
Throughout Uefa has refused to give any information as to the people who have been investigating the chaos in Paris but the Guardian is now reporting that Ribeiro “worked full-time based at Uefa’s Swiss headquarters for 10 years until 2016, as events manager then head of events – the department that organises Champions League finals. Since then he has worked in a senior role at the Portuguese Football Federation”. Silva has worked “as Uefa consultant for stadium operations for the European Championships in 2004, 2008 & 2012”.
Uefa however said the review would be independent, but with ex-Uefa staffers running the show it is hard to see how Uefa’s planning is going to be seriously criticised. At the same time Uefa avoided any enquiry into the chaos at the Euro cup final, by saying that the management of the crowds was a matter for the FA. The FA then said it was nothing to do with them, since it happened outside the stadium.
Tiago Brandão Rodrigues who is chairing the review has regularly worked on projects with Uefa president, Aleksander Ceferin according to the Guardian report. Meanwhile we are also told in the report from the head of safety and security at Uefa is Zeljko Pavlica, a close friend of Ceferin. Rodrigues also worked closed with the previous head of security Kenny Scott who is now also on the “independent” review.
All in all it looks as if Uefa has now taken a good look at the way Fifa and CAS work, and thought, “ah that seems a good way round any problems”. Liverpool supporters’ groups have quite reasonably complained but to no avail, and it appears Uefa is not responding to enquiries.
Some of us had high hopes when Ceferin came to Uefa that Uefa could become a balwark against Fifa corruption and cronyism, but just as the top people at Fifa all come from one village in Switzerland, so at Uefa we now have Zeljko Pavlica, whom the Guardian now reports as being “the president’s close friend from their native Slovenia”, who is in charge of safety and security at Uefa matches.
Uefa’s response to allegations of cronyism akin to that used for years by Fifa stated that, “The chair of the Independent Review has been made aware of the questions you have addressed to him and members of the group. The Independent Group has decided that it will not comment publicly until it presents its initial findings. Uefa has already communicated its intention to not make any further comment on the Independent Review until it reaches its conclusion.
According to the Guardian Uefa are no longer answering any questions on the subject. Which is exactly like the FA on the subject of the chaos at the Wembley Euro final.
This is a great tragedy for Uefa, which goes beyond the chaos of the final itself. I don’t think anyone has denied that there were a lot of fake electronic tickets circulating prior to the Champions League final, nor that a lot of people turned up in Paris without tickets. Nor has anyone denied that a lot of people turned up at the Euro final without tickets.
In short, turning up without tickets at a major footballing event has now happened a couple of times, and I don’t think I’ve read or heard any commentary on how this is going to be stopped. At the FA Cup finals I have been able to attend I don’t think I’ve seen that problem, but it does seem to me that turning up without tickets could start to become a major trend. If it does, of all the people best equipped to cope with such a situation, the FA and Uefa seem to be at the bottom of the list.
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